Price paid: $ 80.45
Purchased from: ebay
Sound: The output of these pickups is WONDERFUL. I tend to play on a lead channel with VERY low gain (two to three clicks) so I can roll off the volume knob to get more "pristine" tones, but rolling the volume back in will give a moderate crunch sound. These pickups respond VERY well to volume knob adjustment, without losing a lot of highs as many other pickups do. Simply awesome... playing positions two through four (the clarity and lack of "ice-pick" shrillness on position two is noteworthy) for rhythm, a simple flick of the Switch to the overwound bridge pickup acts almost like a volume boost for lead... tasty.
These pickups were installed in a $119 New York Pro Stratocaster copy that was ****ed before I completely overhauled it. They were tested through a 1971 Fender Showman reverb amp, a 2006 B-52 LG100 half stack (solid state), and then cranked live through a Crate V50 all tube 1x12 combo. Through the Fender they were amazing... bell-like clarity and very, very thick for single coils. Through the B-52 half stack, they were also very clear, with a bit more definition than the Fender, but hey, it's solid state... but still a wonderful match. The kicker was when they were run through the Crate all-tube amp... with an all-DANELECTRO overdrive/distortion chain.. this was simply unreal. No matter how little or how much dirt... these pickups NEVER lost their character or voice... no matter how much was going on, the guitar NEVER got lost in the mix... for example, with the Cool Cat series overdrive pedal set on about three clicks, almost flat tone, and volume about four, the tone was crisp and clear on all positions... I cannot stress how much these pickups maintain their tone through different amps and pedals. It is SO easy to get a GREAT tone out of these pickups...think Jeff Beck meets David Gilmour meets Carlos Santana (depending on pickup selection). Unreal. Chorus and Delay do not rob these pickups of their clarity...very expressive as well through both a Morley and a Jimi Hendrix signature wah.
The tone is hard to describe... but I've been hunting it down for over twenty years. Balanced. A bit trebly by itself... but when played in a band situation, absolutely PERFECT. Not overpowering, but definitely not lost in the mix. The clearest I have ever heard regardless of absence or excess of gain. Chorus and delay neither rob these pickups of their clarity nor make them too trebly. Just right. An actual comment by another guitarst: "I have never heard a Fender sound like that... I wish they did... I'd buy one". He was flabbergasted when he found out it wasn't a Fender... and neither were the pickups.
I tried and my client tried... we were unable to find any position that sounded poor. All positions were very clear and brought through all the subtleties and nuances of picking and control adjustments. // 9
Reliability & Durability: These pickups are VERY well made... can't see any less quality than licensed Fender stuff. The advertised "bright blue" magnet wire used to wind these was very bright on one pickup, and less so than two... given that they were to be installed on a metallic blue guitar, I was uncertain whether or not I had gotten a matched set. I contacted Jay at GFS and he replied quickly and offered to replace the pickups if I felt they were mismatched, but I elected to proceed with the installation. NO regrets whatsoever. A minor cosmetic point, nitpicky if you will, that ceased to have any importance once the pickups were installed and tuned. Unless I beat someone unconscious with my guitar, I think they will last a lifetime...I only wish their tone could follow me to the afterlife... // 9
Overall Impression: I absolutely LOVE the CLARITY of these pickups. This guitar is played in a band with a drummer, bassist, keyboardist, twelve-string rhythm guitarist, conga player, and singer (and there are four of us singing backups) and these pickups cut through the mix in the most toneful, musical way I've ever heard. Those listening said that even with heavy distortion the guitar was CLEAR AS A PIANO... even subtle little nuances of picking were very clearly present. I have NOTHING bad to say about these pickups and would highly recommend them to any guitarist not afraid to have EVERY note heard clearly. These pickups will MAKE YOU PRACTICE because they faithfully reproduce EVERY nuance of your playing.... for good or for bad. VERY effects friendly... but be warned... if your technique is a bit sloppy, THESE PICKUPS WILL NARC YOU OUT... THEY WILL FORCE YOU TO FACE YOUR SHORTCOMINGS. I kick myself for ever installing anything else in the other guitars I built before this one.
As mentioned above, they were installed in a New York Pro Stratocaster copy, in all positions. I got the Texas set with the overwound bridge pickup... I96, I believe. // 10